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08.11.2015
Quick hearing checks are a good first step to finding out how healthy your hearing is without having to visit your GP or a private hearing specialist.
An over-the-phone hearing check is available from Action on Hearing Loss on 0844 800 3838 (local rate call). This test is a 'speech-in-noise' check, which assesses your ability to hear someone speaking when there’s background noise, similar to being in a crowded room. Online hearing checks are similar to Action on Hearing Loss's telephone hearing check, except you hear the sounds through your computer instead of your telephone.
You can do a free online hearing check at Action on Hearing Loss, the British Society of Hearing Aid Audiologists (BSHAA), or Boots Hearing Care. Don’t be tempted to buy a hearing aid on the basis of an online test alone, as some websites might encourage you to do. As with online and over-the-phone hearing checks, short hearing tests are screening tests designed to alert you to the fact you may have hearing loss.
If a short hearing test suggests you have a hearing problem, the next step is to have a full hearing assessment. The full hearing test appointment lasts up to an hour, and can be carried out by your GP surgery, hospital clinic, or by a private hearing aid dispenser. If you suspect you may have hearing loss and want further testing on the NHS, make an appointment to see your GP.
Most GPs don’t have the equipment to do a full hearing test in the surgery, but your GP can examine your ears to check for obvious problems, like a build-up of earwax, and treat the cause if necessary. Your GP can also give you a referral to an NHS hospital specialist to have your ears and hearing thoroughly checked and an NHS hearing aid fitted. In the clinic, you'll be seen by an audiologist (and possibly by an ear, nose and throat (ENT) doctor first, if your GP has requested it). Before the audiologist tests your hearing, you will be asked some questions about your hearing and they will look in your ears. During the hearing test, you'll sit in a soundproof booth or room with headphones on while the audiologist presents a series of sounds. You might choose to go directly to a private hearing aid dispenser instead of having your hearing tested on the NHS.
You can search for a local hearing aid dispenser on the BSHAA's website, or simply type ‘hearing aid dispenser’ along with your town or postcode into a search engine, such as Google.
The Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC) keeps a list of qualified private hearing aid dispensers.


Action on Hearing Loss has an online Locate and Rate tool that lets you search for audiology services in your area, both NHS and private, by name, address and postcode. If you are housebound, or have difficulty getting to the audiology department, discuss this with your GP. If you get your hearing aid privately you can find a hearing aid dispenser who will do a home visit through the BSHAA website. A build-up of earwax is a common problem that can often be treated using eardrops bought from a pharmacy.
If these treatments don't help, your GP may refer you to an ear, nose and throat (ENT) department for specialised treatment. Earwax can also block your ear if you frequently insert objects into your ear canal, such as cotton buds, ear plugs or hearing aids.
Don't try to remove a build-up of earwax yourself with your fingers, a cotton bud or any other object. If the earwax is only causing minor problems, you can try buying some eardrops from a pharmacy. There are several different types of eardrops you can use, including drops containing sodium bicarbonate, olive oil or almond oil. Speak to your pharmacist about the most suitable product for you and make sure you read the leaflet that comes with it.
Contact your GP surgery if you have particularly troublesome symptoms or eardrops haven't helped after three to five days. Your GP or practice nurse will look inside your ears to check if they're blocked and might carry out some simple hearing tests. They may suggest using eardrops for a bit longer, or they may carry out a minor procedure called ear irrigation to clean out your ear canal. If these treatments aren't suitable or don't help, your GP may refer you to the ENT department of your nearest hospital for more specialised treatments such as microsuction or an aural toilet. Some people are naturally prone to earwax building up in their ears and may need frequent treatment to remove it when it becomes a problem. It's not clear if there's anything you can do to stop earwax blocking your ears, although some doctors recommend using eardrops regularly to keep your earwax soft. Don't try to scrape out the earwax with your finger or an object inserted into your ear, as this this can make the problem worse.


With an account you can keep track of pages on the site and save them to this tab, which you can access on every page when you are logged in. A voice will read out three random numbers and you use the numbers on your telephone keypad to indicate the numbers you heard. These tests are usually free, take about 15 minutes, and can indicate if you have a hearing problem. A full hearing test will confirm whether you have a hearing problem and establish the type of hearing problem that you have. When you hear a sound, you signal to the audiologist, normally by pressing a button or raising your hand. Just as with the NHS route, a hearing aid dispenser will assess you with a full hearing test lasting up to an hour before deciding if you would benefit from wearing hearing aids. Some local hearing aid dispensers offer free testing, so it's worth asking before you make an appointment.
You can use the HCPC's online register to check if the hearing aid dispenser you're about to use is registered.
An audiologist explains the possible causes and effects it often has, such as stress and anxiety, plus how to deal with them.
It usually passes out of the ears harmlessly, but sometimes too much can build up and block the ears. For example, eardrops shouldn't be used if you have a perforated eardrum (a hole or tear in your eardrum). Your pharmacist or doctor can let you know what treatments may work for you and they can tell you about any associated risks or side effects.
It’s always best to have a face-to-face consultation with a hearing specialist to discuss the type of hearing aid that’s right for you,” says Hart.



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